This story was written by a high school student in collaboration with Boston University’s Summer Journalism Institute. It has been edited by a BUSJI instructor, and fact checked and edited by Daily Free Press editors.
By Maggie LeBeau
Sami Morales knew she loved fashion as a toddler when she refused to let her mom style her outfits. The BU rising junior and Southern California native had a creative upbringing, dabbling in childhood acting, appearing on Nickelodeon, a Charli XCX music video, and the show “Jane the Virgin.”
Morales took on another creative passion when she was a junior in high school, making jewelry for her friends as something to do. This grew into a business when she began selling custom pieces.
Morales then began to sell vintage clothes on Depop, an online site for resale.
“I have very unique fashion for myself. I just try to find very unique pieces, quality matters to me too.”
This year, she has sold over 100 pieces on the site.
With help from the BUild Lab, she grew this into her current two-year-old business, Girls With The Fits, which sells second-hand clothing and handmade jewelry. She now has her own website, making around 45 sales in four months.
Morales began having two to three-hour pop-ups this spring. At her pop-ups, she’s taken in between $600 to $1,000 in sales. She hosted three so far.
“Most of my customers are in LA, so I’m trying to expand out into Boston, which is why I’m having the pop-ups on campus to get a little bit of exposure,” Morales said.
Her prices vary from $8 to $300, to cater to different audiences. At her pop-ups, you can find designer pieces hidden among racks of colorful clothing. You can also discover corduroy pants and poofy sweaters or small silk tops and delicate jewelry.
Morales searches for unique second-hand pieces when traveling to different countries. She tries to source her clothes from Europe or Los Angeles.
“You’re not able to see anyone else ever wear these tops if you [were to] go into Urban Outfitters.”
She found her foreign suppliers through traveling and networking. She developed the skill from her dad, observing him throughout her childhood.
“I’m just very talkative and anywhere I go I befriend people.”
Many college students source their clothes from thrifting. COM rising junior Maya Thiart said she buys second-hand because of the lower cost and the sustainability.
“Selfishly, it’s cheaper but I feel like I’m doing something good for the world,” Thiart said. “A lot of times, you can find more unique pieces that way… I see all these things that I think are much more unique and stand out compared to H&M and more manufactured-specific brands.”
Though Morales’ business is expanding to Boston, she still struggles to balance it with her academic workload at school. She is still grateful for the BUild Lab and its support in her business journey at BU.
She first got involved with the BUild Lab by joining the First Year Innovation Fellowship, a resource for a cohort of about 20 first-year and transfer students interested in entrepreneurship.
The fellowship provides funding, workshops and networking. Each student is paired with mentors in their industry, according to Jen Migliore, the BUild Lab’s Director of External Relations.
Migliore added that students invest their time without getting course credit because all programs are extracurricular.
“The reason why they want to do it is because they want to be a part of an innovative entrepreneurial community,” Migliore said.
Morales especially appreciates the BUild Lab because they help students even after graduation, leaving the door open to resources and mentorship.
“They’re going to help me with growing my brand basically, and they’re experts in this industry,” she said. “So it’s going to be really helpful to have someone that has so much experience to help me get to the next phase.”
Morales also uses the BUild Lab as a space for her pop-ups. Zoe Marsiglia, who works at the BUild Lab as a program communication intern and office assistant, said the location is great for fashion, with the large space and big windows to draw attention to her products.
Marsiglia added that Morales has “really utilized our resources at the BUild Lab, lots of mentorships here. Of course, she’s received some funding from us as well to help do some market research. She’s a fantastic young entrepreneur here.”
Morales said going forward, PR and pop-ups in Boston are her priorities. Having learned that a street vendor’s license is between $50 to $150, she said her friend gave her the idea of setting up shop at Copley Square.
“I’m even thinking of doing pop-ups in a store on Newbury Street, having a little rack, and just reaching out to them.”